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Bureaucracy Versus Adhocracy



by Newland

I think just about everybody who is associated with pigeon racing will all agree we have problems that urgently need addressing if we are to see any possible future for our fantastic sport.

In my opinion the only saving grace for our sport at this present moment is that of Gold Ring, Classic and One loft racing.

I believe over the years, especially within the West Midlands, if we hadn’t had some of these ultra successful Gold Ring Classic races there wouldn’t be pigeon racing as we know it today.

I recently attended a meeting of our local club, where our secretary and his wife were going to stand down. There wasn’t anyone prepared to take on the role, so it looked as though this great little club and all its history and traditions along with 15 regular flying members would be disbanded. Whilst I sat there listening to the deliberations, it hit me just how much bureaucracy we see within our hobby today, and why our sport is in such decline.

I’m glad to say our brilliant secretary and his wife decided to stay for another season, depending on the members showing more interest and commitment to the club. But if the above couple were running this club as a business and were paid accordingly instead of spending hundreds of hours a year for a pittance, then maybe we would probably be in a different position.

Gone are the days where the love of the sport saw the club and its members pulling together for the good of the club. Most clubs might have two maybe three members who will put themselves out, for what?

Most of the clubs now are down to sometimes as little as 4 members. The secretary’s job within any pigeon club has become a completely thankless task; the amount of work they have to do for such small financial reward is wrong.

Every year we are seeing a steady decline in membership of our sport. There are probably hundreds of reasons why, but as I’ve said on numerous occasions, we need to try and do something new.

My dad always said to me. “It’s better to have tried and failed, than failed to try”. I then get the same response. Instead of me and people like me moaning and groaning, why not do something about it? Apply for council etc etc. I will answer the same question with the same answer I always give. I have a small business and a young family. I work 60/70 hours a week. I’m just a pigeon fancier who has opinions just like all of us. I’m just basing my opinions on how I see our clubs and organisational structures compared to that of running a small business as I do.

We already have the entrepreneurial skill within our sport. In my opinion we just don’t give them the credit they deserve. I’ve mentioned a certain family within the West Midlands on numerous occasions about how they brought about one of the greatest races we will see in this country for a generation. It all started from nothing and built up to turn over in excess of £1.000.000, brand new cars, cruises, etc.

Within that family you have a brilliant entrepreneur who I’m sure if he were involved with our sport at the highest level would help generate new modern approaches to our structure. There are hundreds of brilliant self-made successful people within our sport, who I believe would only be too happy to join together for the good of us all.


We see advertisements every week where fanciers have had enough and have decided to sell up along with the 30,000 since the 1970s.

This is what we should be seeing.


Our club is an RPRA “A” rated club, we have 40 regular flying members and growing; we race in the biggest federation in the Country averaging 5,000 plus birds a week.

The club is owned by a very successful betting shop chain. With your membership you will receive three full Vet screenings a season by an RPRA accredited practice, you will receive up to 10 lost young birds collected, you will receive a full 12 months subscription of the British Homing World, Racing Pigeon, you will receive £20 worth of vouchers for our online or in shop betting facilities, you will also receive £100 worth of vouchers to spend as you like at the Blackpool Show.

Pools are £5, £10, £20, £50 & £100 Nom.

Also online and in shop betting within this club; next year should see the opportunity of betting within the fed race. Last year over £50,000 and growing, betting from punters across Birmingham on this club.

Sky Sports weekly reviews from different lofts with Tim Abraham.

Next year should see the BBC sports showing weekly bulletins.

So if you think you have the pigeon “X” factor....


Our weekly race payout last year was over £3,000 a week.

Yearly Subscription £1,500

Or 12 Instalments of £125 month

Finance on request.

Apply today to One Man for acceptance.

We charge 15% on all monies taken throughout the season.



New club forming, applying for “C” rating from the RPRA. The new club will be racing in the mighty BIG federation with approx 3/4000 pigeons weekly. I’m a family man with three children; I’ve worked for the local council as a supervisor for twenty years. Previously I was the secretary of the Old Club for 12 years, before restrictions were lifted to enable new business ventures like this to become reality. I thrive on a challenge and hope to drive this new club forward. We will only cater for Bricon ETS users to start with so no clock setter will need to be employed.

Pools are £2, £5, £10, & £20 Nom.

Yearly Subscriptions £300

Or 12 Instalments of £25.

We charge 20% on all monies taken throughout the season.



The above are just two examples of free enterprise; free enterprise being part of the building blocks that help form the modern capitalist societies we all sometimes take for granted. Free enterprise and free trade along with small to medium businesses are the backbone of any democratic society; small business and free trade are what will eventually help save our country from economic ruin.

The two examples I’ve given are no different to going along to your local market and buying fresh produce from a wide range of different traders. The above is no different to Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak (Apple Computers) selling their Volkswagen van for £1300 then becoming multibillionaires, also becoming two men who completely changed our lives for the better.

A lot of pigeon fanciers I have discussed the above with regards to pigeon clubs becoming small to medium businesses and successful people involved with the running of our sport shudder at the thought. They will openly disregard anything to do with free enterprise within our sport at any level!

They say pigeon fanciers with a vested interest within our sport cannot have anything to do with the running of our sport. They say those same people could possibly be influenced into becoming fraudulent. Those same fanciers will book to go to Blackpool every year and spend literally hundreds of pounds with the very businesses that we all rely on so much.  

Blackpool weekend has to be the event of the year, 30,000 plus pigeon enthusiasts from all walks of life descending on the bright lights of this buzzing, vibrant, free enterprise haven. Blackpool is like one giant market. You book the hotel of your choice; this could be a bed & breakfast in one of the little side roads, or a lush five star complex on the sea front. You can take you cheque book or a pocket full of your hard earned cash, read the print of the BHW with all the sales lists within, then choose from one of  dozens of hotels to try and grab yourself a bargain future breeder of champions. Whilst there bidding you can fill your belly with a wide range of alcoholic beverages.

The winter gardens are crammed with market stands where we the pigeon fancier consumer can buy absolutely anything with regard to our sport. If you need it, it will be there. When walking inside the Winter Gardens on the first Saturday morning of its opening, you would never know that our sport is declining the way it is. The atmosphere is brilliant. A type of vibrancy that can only be described as addictive.

Here we see our own organisation working in complete harmony with that of private, commercial, small to medium business. Here all walks of life coming together all under one roof, all for the love of our pigeons.


I’m not suggesting all the clubs should be like the above, but we the fancier in a world where choice is always prevalent, should be given the opportunity. Businesses should also be allowed the opportunity to start such business ventures without prejudice. I’m not saying that all clubs become privately owned businesses but I believe it’s worth a try.

If these clubs became privately owned, then their owners are there to promote their new business by encouraging new membership. The more members the more successful the club/business becomes, and then the club becomes an asset. Something that’s worth money. A going concern. Members could even become share holders within that club; the RPRA could even charge these new ventures a fee for each member. Example: If there were 50 members within that private club, the RPRA could charge an extra £10 for each member. This would be paid by the proprietors from their annual profits. If there were 200 privately owned clubs with the UK with 50 members each, that’s an extra £10,000 a year. This could go into a pot to help fight the dreaded RSPB. It’s all hypothetical, but these are ideas.

Ask your self a question. Like me you don’t win many races, but!

There are two clubs within one mile of your house.

Club 1  

One club is privately owned by one man Frank, a well known successful house builder who employs 20 people, from office staff to lads building the houses. Frank just happens to be a pigeon fancier. The pigeons are marked at his premises.

There are 20 flying members who pay £200 a year, which can either be paid up front or over instalments direct into the club’s bank account. They race in the biggest fed that Frank could find and new members are encouraged to join by being given £20 worth of shares in the club. There isn’t any radius - if you have pigeons and you don’t create any fuss, you’re in. If you do create any problems you will be asked to leave immediately (Part of terms and conditions). The marking is from 6/8 pm. Then Frank takes the crates to the transporter in his own truck.

You turn up and everything is done for you. No one has to get involved with anything unless they want to.

The crates are all spotless and ready for marking.

The cheques are paid in full to the winners every week, and on average the winner of the race comes away with around £120, £160 for channel racing.

Any grievances are put in writing to Frank. Every six months he pays for a meal out, where all the letters etc are collated, and then everything is sorted there and then.

As part of our membership we are entitled to three thorough Vet screenings a year. This is carried out by a leading avian vet, and if our birds need any treatment we get a considerable discount through our “A” rated RPRA scheme. We automatically receive every Thursday our own copies of the BHW & Racing Pigeon.  

You can also buy shares in the club @ £5.00 each. Dividends are paid every six months at our meal out. Next year a few of us leading shareholders, along with Frank, are going to start another club from the same premises purely for channel racing. We will join three different federations and various classics, so to try and have a channel race for all 22 weeks of the season. Subscription for the new club £2000 a year. Finance available on request.

Club 2    

Our club is an existing club with 20 flying members; we race in the same fed as Frank’s club up the road, our subscription is £30 a year, we pay out roughly £25 for a win at the end of the year at our AGM.

We have a boundary that goes up one street, across another street, down a lane, over a bridge, round a big park. We mark from 6/8, then the secretary and his son wait until between 10.30/11.15 for the transporter to arrive.

To join you will have to put in an application, you will need to be proposed, seconded then read out twice at two meetings concurrent, and if you are successful, you will need to go on basket cleaning duty every fourth week on a Sunday morning. You will also be asked to help out with marking.

The question is not which club you think is the best, but you have a choice to join either one, regardless of how attractive the first one may look to some fanciers.

Fanciers will go out and pay £1,000 plus for a pair of pigeons to breed youngsters to race in their club where they might win £25. But that’s their choice.

We regularly hear of pigeons selling for in access of £30,000. Invincible Spirit was sold for £110,000. Fanciers will say that’s too much, it’s damaging the sport, BUT…. Would they turn a youngster down from that pigeon?

It’s out there. We the fancier determine the market, but the entrepreneur who makes the gamble and ultimately puts his or her hands in their pockets and pay these massive sums of money for such pigeons are what enables us all to obtain such quality.  

Unfortunately we live in a world where class like Invincible Spirit and that of Mona Lisa have become entwined by that of successfulness. Pigeon racing in the commercial sense has moved on, that’s why we see such vast sums of money paid for quality.

But where we see commercially class pigeons like Invincible Spirit selling for £110,000, a former winner of probably the greatest pigeon race on planet earth today can’t join any of his local clubs. The reasons are irrelevant, but it’s the usual, and the fact is he can’t now race pigeons. If there wasn’t any National of Classic racing, he would have to become another statistic with yet the same advert we see every week in the BHW advertising another clearance sale.

In my opinion private enterprise is the only answer to our problems. Why? Because it doesn’t judge on hard work and determination. Aspiration and perseverance are always rewarded with accolade.

In my opinion Pigeon Racing could be great again. I feel that with a few changes, but radical ones at that, we could see our sport grow again.